Representatives of early childhood education providers and care staff are to protest outside Dáil Éireann from 2pm next Tuesday (15th November) at Government failure to adequately fund childcare and other early years’ services. The Association of Childhood Professionals (ACP) and IMPACT trade union say that Budget increases in childcare funding are inadequate to ensure high quality support for all children or to support a living wage for early year’s staff.
IMPACT and the ACP will demand significant increases in State investment in early childhood education and care to allow the professionalisation of the sector so that staff providing quality services can be properly rewarded. A recent ICTU survey found that, although Irish parents pay dearly for pre-school care, early years staff – including well-qualified workers – could earn as little as €5,150 a year in an increasingly casualised sector. Turnover rates for childcare professionals stand at 22%, while Ireland spends just 0.2% of GDP on childcare compared to an OECD average of 0.8%.
Marian Quinn of the ACP said: “High quality early childhood education and care is hugely important for young children and early childhood professionals play a pivotal role in supporting children and families. Providers and employees are subsidising what should be state-funded services through low pay and the Government has not consulted the industry on – or provided enough resources to support – the implementation of new qualifications and regulations, or the Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) scheme.”
IMPACT organiser Una Faulkner said: “Inadequate capitation payments are driving down wages because employers are being asked to provide services below cost. Low pay, poor career prospects, and long periods off-payroll during the summer months, are damaging early years’ service quality by driving staff out of the sector.”
The joint IMPACT-ACP campaign is providing an opportunity for staff and service providers to stand together and demand a change of attitude and policy that will result in the positive development of the early years’ profession. Both organisations have called on their members to support the 15th November protest and engage with parents and elected representatives to highlight the difficulties being experienced in the sector.